Hill Country Nature Park raises community awareness of wildlife

For those who need to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, look no further than the hills of Horseshoe Bay. The park, originally zoned for multi-family condominiums, has become the perfect outdoor getaway.

“This is a very unique geological area. The property is largely untouched by its original landscape,” said Vicki Adcock, Master Naturalist and Board Member of Horseshoe Bay Nature Park (HSB) Inc. “The community has been very generous. That’s really how the park came together because it’s not a city park.”

Lower level of the hiking path just before the bird blinders area.

Photos by Gabriel Romero

HSB President Steve Jordan spoke with the Mayor of Horseshoe Bay in 2019 and pushed the project forward. John W. Smith was going to buy the property across from where the current park is. After a conversation between Jordan and Smith, the idea of ​​turning the land into a natural park was born.

HSB Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization, has raised more than $600,000 for the first two phases of the park. The next big project for the nature park is interpretive signage that will detail the park’s features, animals and plants. The park includes eight ecological zones with different rocks, plants, wildlife habitats and topography.

One of the many memorial benches placed in the park.

One of the many memorial benches placed in the park.

Photos by Gabriel Romero

The 11-acre Horseshoe Bay Nature Park has a half-mile walking loop and trail markers where people can veer off the path to reach benches and relax. Benches and markers are placed throughout the park and lead to places where people can see birds and hear animals rustling in the tall grass.

The organization planted new wildflowers and grass seeds for prairie restoration. There are strategically placed brush piles for birds and small animals to create nests. Birdhouses are spread throughout the park and a specially designed Chimney Swift box is ready to be called home. Chimney Swifts only build their nests on the sides of walls.

A hiking marker leading to an off trail area.

A hiking marker leading to an off trail area.

Photos by Gabriel Romero

The park is an active conservation and restoration site that provides education for children and parents. There are QR codes on park maps that lead park goers to more activities for kids to do in the park which includes a birding guide and scavenger hunt. A spacious viewing platform overlooks the trail and Adcock says the next step is to show school classes around the area and use the viewing platform as a classroom to learn about the nature in the park.

twisted leafan Austin-based “full-service landscape design-build studio focused on ecological restoration” designed Horseshoe Bay Nature Park.

“My favorite part of the park is the geology here which is really interesting. We were able to use native rock to build the trail,” said Sarah Yent, director of Twistleaf Land Design. “After all the time we’ve been at this park, I just can’t imagine there are 200 condos here. So many developments happening, it’s great to see that not everything is changing.”

A view of one of the areas off the main walking path.

A view of one of the areas off the main walking path.

Photos by Gabriel Romero

Instead of uprooting dead trees, called “snags”, they left them because many animals and insects take advantage of the trees. Bird watchers can walk the trail and see different native birds behind the shade. The area sits just above a nearby pond. Birds can be seen diving from the sky into the pond, barely touching the water. There are two bee hives in the park which will house colonies of bees and hopefully help people understand that bees are endangered and not to be feared.

“One thing we didn’t know about the project is that migratory bird populations cross North America into central Texas. So they come here,” Yent said. “And monarch butterflies, it’s actually super unique.”

Horseshoe Bay Nature Park is open from sunrise to sunset daily and is located at 1514 Golden Nugget Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657.

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